Monday, April 23, 2012

April A to Z - T is for Twitter part 1 - an interview with Samuel J. Richards creator of Tweet RPG

There was once a time when I thought that Twitter only existed so that we could all read about what Stephen Fry was eating for lunch in Belgum.  Howver, I have realised that it is for much much more.  Through Twitter,  I have found an excellent cover designer, talked with gamebook greats and interacted with my fans.  People are also coming up with other creative uses for Twitter such as running an interactive RPG on it where followers vote on the outcome.  Yes, it seems that Twitter can do anything.  

The accound in question is Tweet RPG and at the time of writing, it is starting its fourth adventure, Hack and Slash Hero and you can join in at any time.  All you have to do is follow the Tweet RPG accound and wait until it gives you a cahnge to vote on something.  You mention Tweet RPG with your vote and put the hashtag in that mentions the vote.  If you are new to Twitter, you can read this guide  to get a better idea of how it works.  If you are already on Twitter, KI recommend this guide called Blog and Tweet - How to Make a Splash Online by Kathy Lynn Hall (who I also met through Twitter).

So when you are Twitter savvy, you can join in the game.  After you've read the interview...

What was the first gamebook you read (that wasn't your own)?

I think it was 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' from the Fighting Fantasy series.

What is your favourite gamebook?

That's a difficult one. It would have to be between 'Space Assassin' and 'Robot Commando'. Come to think of it, the second Tweet RPG adventure, Starfall, drew quite a lot of inspiration from the latter of those two books.

What gamebooks/interactive fiction would you recommend to a newcomer to the genre?

Any of the Fighting Fantasy books, but maybe do some research and find an easy adventure to begin. And if you've got a Twitter account, Tweet RPG of course!

Summarise what a gamebook is to a newcomer in 100 characters or fewer.

A gamebook is a story that lets YOU become the main character and shape the adventure!

Why are gamebooks great compared to games or books?

Gamebooks are great because you can pick up and play whenever and wherever you want - no batteries required! Also, the fact that the reader can effect the path of the narrative is fantastic. You can have a new adventure every time you play.

Where did you come up with the idea of using Twitter as a place for interactive storytelling?

It was partly because I wanted to promote myself as writer in an innovative way, partly because I love stories, role-playing, and social media, and partly because I had sunstroke and was feverishly pondering things in the middle of the night last summer! 

Where did you come up with your ideas for Tweet RPG stories?

I find inspiration in loads of different places, such as music, video games, books, films, television, etc, which feeds my overactive imagination. All the stories are my own original material, but all inspired by the things I love.

Where did you come up with your ideas for the Tweet RPG game system?

The idea for the voting system was originally inspired by a series of interactive web comics by 'Ctrl+Alt+Del' creator Tim Buckley, where readers shaped the narrative through email voting. Some of the ideas were borrowed from Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer, especially the dice throws and combat. However, I have to give the Tweet RPG players credit for helping to continually build and influence the mechanics of the project. A few of the players recently helped me rework the 'death/failure' rules, which I greatly appreciated.

When it comes to writing a Tweet RPG scenario, what's the most important thing that you do?

Be prepared to be flexible. When I plan an adventure, I gather together a few essential building blocks and some optional ideas, and see where the players want to go. Although I maintain my ultimate control over the narrative, I have to bend and flex with the players, listening to their ideas and letting them invest themselves in the story to the furthest extent.

What have you got coming up in terms of your projects?

I'm currently planning the next Tweet RPG adventure - not giving anyway specific details at the moment, but I will say it's going to be a light and fun adventure, which will poke fun at a few cliches and stereotypes! I'm also aiming to self-publish a collection of short stories, but there's a fair bit of work to be done before that happens.

Do you have any other sites besides your blogs/Twitter feeds?

As well as the Tweet RPG blog ( and Twitter account (@tw33t_rpg), 

I have my personal blog (, Twitter feed (@samuel_j_r) and Facebook page (

What do you think the future of gamebooks is?

Tweet RPG! Seriously though, I think any use of written media could be employed to create or expand gamebooks in a new way. Using augmented reality would be cool i.e. using a smartphone or tablet to transform your surroundings into an adventure. With a bit of creativity and skill, the possibilities are endless!

So there we go.  If you want to play the latest adventure, Hack and Slash Hero, first you need a Twitter account and then you need to follow @tw33t_rpg.  While you are at it, you can also follow Samuel's personal Twitter feed on @samuel_j_r and follow his blogs at and  You can also follow him on facebook at

Happy gamebooking!

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